The most common issue with external stairs for a Traditional Queenslander is rotten timber.

If the front stairs of your Traditional Queenslander need replacing, you have to decide if you are going to replace them with cheaper steel stringers, or whether you are going to be faithful to the original design and have hardwood timber stairs custom-made for your home.

How Do I Know if My Timber External Stairs Need Replacing?

If your treads are starting to move when you walk on them, or your notice that the timber is starting to rot, then it is time to start thinking about replacing the stairs. The external timber stairs often are in full sun and get loads of use, wear, and tear, so they tend to have to be replaced every 35 years or so.

How to Calculate the Cost of a new set of External Stairs?

To calculate the cost of a new set of external timber stairs – you have to consider the following:

  1. Type of External Timber Stairs (full timber or steel stringer and timber treads)
  2. Choosing Your Balustrade Type
  3. Do You Need a Landing?
  4. Calculating the final cost

Let’s go through each to see!

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A set of full timber stairs with slat balustrading, double hand-rail, and a landing.

1. Types of External Timber Stairs

Gympie Carpentry does two types of external timber stairs. Traditional full timber stairs, and steel stringer external stairs with timber treads. Here’s a bit about each style:

Traditional Full Timber Style External Timber Stairs

  • More Expensive
  • More Suited for Front Stairs
  • Must-Have for Historic or High-Quality Timber Homes
  • Original Style Installation

A traditional full timber style outdoor set of timber stairs is what you will find in most old and historic style Queenslander homes. The ‘stringers’ which are the main part of the stair construction, are fully timber, so pockets are carved out of the stringer to allow the step treads to ‘slide in’. The image above is an example of a full timber style external timber stairs.

Steel Stringer Style External Timber Stairs

  • Cheaper to Install
  • Faster to Install
  • Best for Back Stairs

The steel version takes much of the hard work out of creating stairs with a pre-fabricated set of steel stringers, with timber step tread. They don’t look as pretty as the timber stairs, but they can be painted.

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An example of steel stringers with timber step treads.

2. Choosing Your Balustrade Type

Another huge cost factor for external timber stairs is the type of balustrade.

What is a balustrade?

Well, a balustrade is the ‘decorative fence’ style of panel that is used as a ‘fall prevention barrier’. Balustrading is often referred to as ‘railings’.

Balustrading is a very important feature of Queenslander-style homes. And there are a few different types of balustrading to choose from, depending on the type of home you have, the look you want, and the budget you have for construction. Generally, the fancier the balustrade, the more expensive the construction.

Are you looking for a traditional timber-style balustrade like in the image above? Or do you want the more modern look of wire?

Not sure? Here are some examples of both:

Timber Balustrades:

Timber Balustrades are what you see on a traditional Queenslander home. There are many styles to choose from, but ideally, you should choose a style of balustrade that suits the period features of your home.

For example, if you have a Queenslander home that is aged from 1820 – 1880 you would be looking a the ‘Union Jack’ style balustrade.

A Queenslander that is circa 1900 – 1920 – you would be looking at a ‘Cricket Stump’ style balustrade. Cricket Stump balustrades are made with thick dowel and can be as simple as a single handrail – or fancy it up with a double handrail.

Later styles of Queenslander homes (from 1920 – 1939) have the ‘slat style’ balustrade. This is the most common form of balustrading you will see. Slat-style balustrades come in ‘single rail’ or ‘double rail’ construction with the double-rail being more decorative.

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Example of an Early Queenslander with ‘Union Jack’ style Balustrade in ‘Single Rail’
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Example of a ‘Cricket Stump’ style Balustrade in double rail
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Examples of the ‘Slat Style’ Balustrade with a double-rail

Wire Balustrades:

Wire balustrades are great for a more modern type of home, and they also allow you to see through the wire to admire the view. But a downside of wire balustrading is if you have little children, as they can ‘climb’ the wire.

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3. Do You Need a Landing?

If you require 17 steps or more – you are legally required to have a landing. A landing is a level platform that is constructed usually where the stairs change direction, but even if you have the room for more than 17 stairs, you still need a landing to allow the user of the stairs to ‘rest’.

Landings do incur more costs, but are a legal requirement here in Queensland.

4. Calculating the External Stairs Cost?

The cost to replace your current old timber external stairs with hardwood timber really depends on the following:

  • The size of your staircase (how many steps)
  • The type of balustrading you choose
  • Is the hardwood staircase straight, curved, l-shape or u-shape.
  • Are any landings required?

On average, a very traditional style straight hardwood timber staircase would cost approximately $6,000 to replace.

Any landings, double-hand-rails or additional features would add to this cost.

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How Long Does it Take to Build a Hardwood Timber Staircase for a Traditional Queenslander?

Gympie Carpentry would take approximately two-three weeks to design, construct and build your brand-new hardwood timber staircase.

The Gympie Carpentry team has owned and renovated Queenslanders for the last twenty years, and we still adore them today. If you want your Queenslander or old timber home to be restored faithfully, choose Gympie Carpentry.